Sources tell AsiaNews that the nuclear weapons rebels claim to have found are only nuclear material and waste from Gaddafi’s nuclear programme. Despite their potential danger, the old regime did not have the means to build nuclear weapons. NATO announces the end of its mission in Libya.
Tripoli (AsiaNews) – “The discovery of nuclear weapons is a canard. Radioactive material does exist but it is part of the uranium enrichment programme dismantled in 2003. Everyone knew that Gaddafi had handed over only 55 per cent of the material needed to build weapons of mass destruction,” anonymous sources told AsiaNews.
Mahmoud Jibril, prime minister of the National Transitional Council, announced today that nuclear weapons were found in the country and that a nuclear conflict had been averted. He also said that the Agency for International Atomic Energy (AIAE) had been investigate the matter, Al Arabiya TV network reported on Monday.
However, the material that was found is dangerous only if it can be delivered by the right technology.
In 2003, Gaddafi had agreed to Western demands to dismantle his nuclear programme. This enabled Libya to rejoin the international community. The agreement also called for financial help, which the Bush administration provided for.
Experts and eyewitnesses said that Libya had developed a nuclear weapon capability, building some 4,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Gaddafi had paid US$ 100 to 200 million to a proliferation network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, for the technology.
Because of a squabble with the United States, which the Libyan leader had accused of not delivering on its financial promises, Gaddafi delayed handing over the stockpiled material until 2009.
“What the rebels found correspond to what had not yet been handed over,” sources told AsiaNews. Radioactive waste from the Tajura nuclear plant (near Tripoli) built in 1983 must also be taken into account, they added “That’s a far cry from the claim of nuclear weapons.”
Meanwhile, NATO has announced the end of Operation Unified Protector, its official mission in Libya. It will continue however to assist the NTC in maintaining security in the country, still in pray of domestic divisions.
A small team of military advisers will stay to provide assistance to new government and start the process of weapons collection from rebel fighters.
Since the start of its mission in the North African country on 19 March, NATO planes carried out 26,00o missions, including nearly 10,000 strike missions. More than 1000 tanks, vehicles and guns were destroyed, along with Colonel Gaddafi's command and control network in Tripoli, Bani Walid and Sirte.
The total number of dead and injured from the military actions of NATO and Gaddafi forces remains unknown. Some estimate the figure to be around 10,000 dead. (S.C.)
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